What are Urethral Shaft Abnormalities?
Any apparent urinary difficulty or dysfunction that may appear to be affecting your family pet should always be investigated. Simply said, some of the abnormalities that have been documented are narrowing of the urethra, no opening at all of the tube, and protrusion of the shaft out of the body. Urethral shaft abnormalities can lead to problems with the voiding process which in turn, can develop into a myriad of consequences like incontinence, urinary tract infections, and dermatitis due to urine scalding to name a few. The breed, age, and sex predisposition will be determined by the type of anomaly your pet has.
The urethra is connected to the bladder and is the tube that urine passes through as it is eliminated from the body. There are numerous urethral shaft abnormalities that may be found although congenital (present at birth) conditions are not common in canines.
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Symptoms of Urethral Shaft Abnormalities in Dogs
The signs that your dog may have a urethral shaft abnormality will range in intensity and discomfort depending on the condition. There could be secondary problems that will indicate a problem as well.
- Urinary incontinence
- Blood in the urine
- Painful urination
- Difficulty in urinating
- Anatomical abnormalities may be obvious
- Urine soaked fur
- Perineal dermatitis caused by urine scalding
- Abdominal discomfort due to bladder distension or kidney swelling
- Urinary tract infections
- Protrusion of small mass at the tip of the penis during urination
- Blood dripping from the penis
- Passing of urine from the anus or simultaneously from the rectum and urethra
An anomaly of the urethral shaft is typically a congenital condition. There are also a few abnormalities that are characterized as acquired, occurring later in life due to trauma or illness.
Causes of Urethral Shaft Abnormalities in Dogs
There are several reasons for an abnormality of the urethral shaft.
- Males most commonly affected
- The urethra has openings at various sites along the shaft and may also present with the urethra under the penis instead of at the tip
- The anatomy may not be fully developed
- Boston Terriers are prone
Urethrorectal and rectovaginal fistulas
- There is an opening between the urethra and rectum or the urethra and vagina
- More often it is male canines that are found to have the condition
- English Bulldogs are predisposed
- Male Boston Terriers under 5 years of age are most represented in documentation
- Often a red to purple mass is seen at the tip of the penis
- This can result from catheterization during surgery
- Can also be caused by vaginitis, cystitis, and other inflammatory disorders
- May happen due to neoplasia (abnormal growth of tissue), granuloma (inflammation in tissue), or displacement of the bladder
- Small pouches form along the shaft of the urethra
Diagnosis of Urethral Shaft Abnormalities in Dogs
Many cases of urethral shaft abnormality will be obvious to the trained eye of the veterinarian. During the physical examination the veterinarian most likely will be able to see anatomical malformations and feel physical signs such as abdominal distention or wrongly formed parts of the anatomy (penis or vagina). Still, it is best to inform your the veterinary team of any recent illnesses and behavioral or appetite changes. The veterinarian will inquire about the urinary habits of your canine family member as well, so if you have any concerns, voicing them now will help in the diagnostic process.
Standard testing will be ordered to rule out infections or underlying diseases that could cause urinary trouble. If the physical examination does not clearly indicate the problem, imaging tests may be suggested.
Treatment of Urethral Shaft Abnormalities in Dogs
Surgery is the treatment that is most often required for an anomaly of this type. In the case of a prolapsed urethra, if there are minimal signs, no treatment will be needed. If the prolapse is causing a problem, surgery will be done to relieve the condition. Fistulas will require surgical correction, which may be opted for and will offer a diversion of the urinary path.
Hypospadia can be corrected in a few ways; the options considered are surgical reconstruction or resection, partial or complete amputation, or shortening of the penis. This may seem like an extreme measure to some owners but if it brings resolution then it is definitely worth it. Urethral diverticula is best corrected through surgical measures aimed at fixing the pockets in the shaft, while urethritis can be eased by finding and treating the underlying cause. A urethral obstruction might be resolved by medication specific to nerve stimulation for the urethra as an alternative to an operation.
Because of the many types of shaft irregularities, your veterinarian will discuss with you the best option for your pet’s situation taking into account his age and the severity of the condition.
Recovery of Urethral Shaft Abnormalities in Dogs
If your beloved pet had surgery for this condition, he will need a quiet place to rest and recover once he comes home from the hospital. You will need to monitor him carefully to make sure he is not licking the surgical site and to make sure that he is comfortable. Your veterinarian will advise you on exercise restrictions and diet.
Any treatment that has been decided upon by the veterinarian will require follow-up appointments, specifically to verify that your pet is urinating in an easier fashion without pain or discomfort. It should be noted that urinary tract infections can be a definite condition that needs to be monitored from now on. It is a small inconvenience compared to the problems related to the urethral shaft abnormality; be certain to let your veterinarian know if you feel that your dog is uncomfortable.